Last days of summer and the TULA baby carrier

beach walk with kids
beach walk
Our final week of summer holiday has been a really wonderful one. I turned my phone off, stuck it in the bottom of my suitcase, and haven’t checked it even once! I wanted to disconnect a bit and soak up these carefree summer days before we return to London and the kids go back to school. I’ve made a point of spending quality time with each of my children, asking questions, really listening to their answers, just being more present.  We’ve gone on long walks, played games, read books, hung out in our pyjamas and have just been generally slow and lazy. It’s not going to be easy going back to our normal routines and early morning wake-ups (plus jet-lag! eeek!), but I’m so thankful for our long summer away.

walking on the beach tula carrier
Speaking of long walks… I wanted to mention a new baby carrier I’ve discovered which has completely changed my life (or at least my walking-with-Marlow life).  Earlier this summer Marlow started to complain about being in the Ergo carrier. I would strap her in at the onset of our walks and within minutes she would ask to be put down. I started to wonder if perhaps she wasn’t comfortable in the Ergo anymore. (Sidenote: of all the baby carriers I’ve tried, the Ergo has been my favourite. I didn’t think it was possible to find a better option.)

Enter the Tula toddler carrier. I am convinced this is the best option for toddlers aged 18 months and over. The Tula is a lot like the Ergo, but it’s got a wider fabric body which is better for toddlers because it doesn’t dig into their little thighs. Also, the fabric is much softer and so it fits over their bigger body with ease and is really comfortable, both for the toddler and the mama.  Marlow has ridden comfortably in the Tula for several long walks without ever asking to be put down. It has made such a difference during the past couple weeks, especially since I haven’t had my husband to offer shoulder rides to tired children.

marlow in tula baby carrier
marlow laughin in carrier

I hope you don’t mind me sharing a few photos from a recent beach walk with my kids. I hid my phone away and haven’t taken any photos this past week, but my sister snapped these photos and I’m so happy to have them as a memory of our lazy late summer days.

x Courtney

p.s. I’ll be in London next time you hear from me. Wish me luck on that long flight back home. : )

Portable sleeper for newborns

 

fisher price sleeper

fisher price portable sleeper

portable sleeper, folded

We’re visiting my husband’s family in Lake Tahoe this week where the kids are having loads of fun playing with all their cousins.  My sister-in-law recently gave birth to her fourth baby, a little girl called Ruby, and we’ve been enjoying spending time with her and getting lots of newborn snuggle time. I can’t believe Marlow was ever that tiny! Or that sweet and calm for that matter. : )

My sister-in-law has a little portable baby bed she uses for the baby, and she told me it’s the number one thing she would recommend to anyone having a baby. I love recommendations like that!

Not only does the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper fold-up easily for travel or storage purposes (or simply for moving from room to room), but the cocooned shape and inclined position of the bed is perfect for keeping new babies feeling secure and comforted. I remember my babies always hated being put down to sleep on a flat mattress and they would often wake immediately after being put down, which is why I think this little bed looks like such a perfect solution.

The sleeper is available from Amazon (US and UK ).

x Courtney

Perludi furniture: a cot, junior bed & ottoman (all in one)

Perludi Otto crib
Perludi Otto junior bed
Perludi Otto Ottoman
We were given a hand-me-down cot from friends when our first baby was born and it’s the cot we still use for Marlow. I think it must be at least 15 years old now, and it’s one of those cots that is ONLY a cot, and nothing else.  If I were to buy a cot now I would definitely definitely invest in a cot that transforms from cotbed to junior bed. I’ve always thought this is a brilliant, cost-saving feature.

I love the look of the Perludi ‘OTTO in the MOON’ cot because it goes one step further and gives you the added option of flipping the junior bed over and using it as an ottoman/sofa (with storage space for toys or whatever underneath). So clever! I like the sleek, modern design and love that it’s made from organic materials and is 100% recyclable (none of which can be said for the old cot we have!).

The Perludi range is available to purchase from Little Bou and usually ships (for free!) within 7-10 working days.

x Courtney

Louis le Sec, adorable and waterproof bed sheets

Sophie Remy, a mother of 3 children, developed Louis Le Sec — a classy range of bed linen that doesn’t only look adorable, but is also very functional. All children (and some longer than others), go through phases where nightly disasters are more likely to occur. During potty training, or when suffering from childhood illnesses, or simply when thirsty and helping themselves clumsily to a drink!

Louis Le Sec offers a waterproof, soundless and breathable protection that keeps your child’s bedding safe and dry and makes wet and dirty sheets easier to deal with. (And that’s a bonus in the middle of the night!) It is made from polyurethane, an organic molecule widely used in the medical world, which breathes, is elastic and extensible, absorbs liquids and also provides a cooling effect. It allows vapor molecules to pass but not large water molecules. So it is not only an extremely useful protection against liquids, but also a handy barrier against dust mites — perfect in case of allergies!

Colours and patterns of the bedding are really darling — unisex and simple, they would look lovely in any interior!

xxx Esther

PS Sophie is now offering and exclusive 15% discount for Babyccino Kids readers. Check here for details!

Let’s talk about electronics and our children

This is not your average Babyccino post but I wanted to speak openly about a topic I feel really passionate about. I want to talk about electronics and the way they are affecting our children.

I recently went on a school field trip with my 9-year-old son’s class to see the Vikings Exhibition at the British Museum. What lucky children to live in a city where they can take a short subway journey to one of the world’s best museums (and I must say, the Vikings Exhibit was incredible)! While in the museum, I noticed that some of the children had brought a Nintendo DS. The more I looked around, the more children I noticed who were playing games on iPhones, Nintendos and various other devices. I think my jaw must have touched the floor; I was absolutely shocked! Here we were, on a once-in-a-life time school field trip, in one of the world’s most fascinating museums, and these children were completely unengaged and uninterested in their surroundings. Some were sitting down against a wall with their little thumbs pounding against their device, others played as they walked around, bumping into people because they were so focused on the little machine in the palm of their hands.

When I asked the teachers if this was allowed, I was told that they weren’t supposed to be playing games, but that they were allowed to bring cameras on the field trip. It seems that nowadays iPhones and Nintendos are considered cameras because they all have photo-taking capabilities. So, the line between cameras and video games has become blurred, and to my astonishment, we now have children going on field trips with their video games in tow.

And not only this, but I am increasingly aware of young children sitting in restaurants with an iPhone, playing video games on the bus, watching DVDs on every car journey no matter how long.  It seems children aren’t being given the chance to be bored, they aren’t being encouraged to create their own fun or to be present in the moment. What ever happened to good old-fashioned conversation? Talking to our children over dinner? Encouraging them to talk to each other? Or just waiting patiently to eat? What ever happened to observation? Taking in your surroundings on the bus? Experiencing exhibits in a museum? Asking questions, sharing observations, making memories?

In a few weeks my eldest will be going on a 4-day school camping trip. In a meeting this week to brief the parents, I asked if electronics would be allowed. And I opened a big can of worms! The teachers explained that the children would be allowed to bring electronics because it ‘keeps them quiet while on the journey.’ Another teacher explained that he thinks it’s good for children to embrace modern technology and to learn how to use electronics from an early age.

This is rubbish, and I feel compelled to say so.

We did not have iPhones or iPads when we were young, but miraculously we all know how to use them. Even my technologically impaired father uses a laptop and an iPhone with ease. Is there really any advantage to be gained by letting our children play games on our iphones? No. And with regards to ‘keeping the children quiet on the bus’… Really?! Shouldn’t they be singing songs, chatting to each other, looking out their windows, making silly faces to the people in the cars they’re passing? That’s what we did when we were kids and the bus ride was often one of the best parts of school trips. Why would we give them a sedative dose of Nintendo?

Our children are only little for such a short time. The window for imaginative adventures and play is so small. They have the rest of their lives to be attached to a device. Why start now?

x Courtney

p.s. I very rarely share my parenting views on this blog. I am generally quite open minded about the decisions other parents make, and I know that I am by no means an expert. But for some reason, this feels different to me. I hope you too will share your thoughts and comments, in favour or against my view. I would love for this to become an open dialogue between us all. xx

(Image above found here)

Adorable Penguins at Esthex

I love the new penguin range at Esthex. How cute are Ned (who plays music!) and his little brother Georges? And that little Ned backpack is just adorable. They have so much character! (Esther, the designer behind Esthex, told me she went through so much effort to make sure her supplier had the eyes just right — and it really makes the difference.)

I also really like these doll sized bunk beds. Wouldn’t your children just love to play with these? I know mine would — my boys as much as my girls!

xxx Esther

Ellie Fun Day blankets

EllieFunDay produces gorgeous heirloom baby blankets, made from super soft organic muslin cotton and beautifully embroidered, all done so by hand by marginalised women in India. The company is the brainchild of Sarah Lin (and her husband Elton), who after spending some time in India a few years ago, fulfilled her dreams of designing a beautiful product that would make a lasting change in the world. She remembered her own much loved baby blanket, and designed a collection of gorgeous, modern blankies.

I love the darling designs of the EllieFunDay blankets and the importance of the story behind it. The blankets make wonderful gifts (they come beautifully labeled and in a drawstring muslin bag), and look gorgeous in any crib and interior. Casper loves his Fox & Forest blanket!

xxx Esther

O Clock Watches

Esther and I are in sync with our parenting! She and I both just gave our 8-year-olds a watch, both completely unaware (until now) that our kids would be able to tell the time! We were laughing on the phone the other day about how if our eldest kids were our only children, they would have had a watch and surely would have learned to tell the time by age 6! But… when you have four children you sometimes forget or simply overlook each child’s needs and abilities. I suppose that’s a downside to having several children.  Anyway, my 8-year-old learned to tell the time super quickly and loves his watch — he told me it was his favourite gift this Christmas! I think I’ll also buy my 6-year-old the same one… and I’m sure he’ll also learn to tell the time really quickly (at least I will have been on top of things with one of my children!).

Anyway, I wanted to share the watch I bought for him:  it’s the O Clock Watch by Fullspot. The bands are made of stretchy silicone and just slip over the hand (no buckle necessary). They come in a bunch of fun colours and you can interchange the straps and faces if your child would like a different colour at some point (the straps and faces are sold separately).

I got the watch from Little Hanbury which is a super cool shop specialising in clothes & accessories for boys!

x Courtney

Watch it — may28th

Sara asked us a few weeks ago, if we could please help her out a little — she still didn’t know how to read the time. I guess our parenting technique has been a bit too relaxed perhaps? She’ll be nine soon! So I quickly ordered a watch for her and for Pim, and we’ve been talking about the time a lot lately. And surely she mastered it in no-time! Advantage is that she can always tell me what time it is… disadvantage is that she keeps close attention to my schedule, and constantly reminds me that I’m running late, which I often am!

The watches I got are from may28th and I think they are just perfect — simple, colourful, and water resistant enough to withstand a thorough bath (as I can attest).

xxx Esther

The Bugaboo wool collection

Wool is known for its wonderful, temperature regulating properties. So this past summer, when it was hot and humid and sticky, I cut holes in a sheep skin and put it in my Bugaboo as a seat cover. Like this Casper was always on a soft, natural and breathable ‘mattress’, which kept him cool as well as comfortable.

So I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Bugaboo recently teamed up with Woolmark and created a beautiful woollen seat liner with exactly those same thoughts in mind! The seat liner is made from 100% pure wool and fits all Bugaboo models. It can be used all year long — in summer it will help to keep your baby cool and comfy, and in winter warm and cosy. It also has a pretty grey padded reverse side — so you can change your look every now and then.

Bugaboo also developed a super soft, 100% extra fine merino wool blanket in three pretty colours, and — this is so exciting for those mums currently expecting a winter baby — beginning of next year there will be a soft and natural merino woollen mattress cover for the Bugaboo carrycot available as well.

I love this line. So much prettier and easier-to-care-for than my home-made solution! (And Casper is ever so cosy and comfortable, as you can see!)

xxx Esther

Waterproof gear from Muddy Puddles

We recently took the kids out of London for an adventurous weekend day trip to Warwick Castle. It was one of those cold, drizzly September days that felt a bit more like winter than Autumn, and we were happy to be kitted out in waterproof jackets and wellies from Muddy Puddles.

My kids have the reversible jackets, which are fully waterproof on one side and lined with cosy fleece on the other — perfect for this time of year when the weather varies so much. They also have the matching rubber wellies, so they are both coordinated and cosy in their waterproof gear. My kids were able to run around the castle grounds braving all the elements of the blustery day.

Muddy Puddles has a wide selection of outdoor gear that is as fun as it is functional. Perfect for our unpredictable British weather and the cold, wet winter ahead of us. (It only took me 10 years to finally accept that in order to live happily in London, we just have to have appropriate warm & waterproof clothing!!)

p.s. Even on a grim day, Warwick Castle was really great! Loads of fun activities for the kids, and a really pretty setting for a lovely day out. I definitely recommend visiting.  (And the view from the tower is amazing!)

xx Courtney

Back to School with Rain Starts Play

Didn’t it seem like summer ended so suddenly and Autumn weather appeared overnight? At least here in London — one day it was hot and sunny and the next it was rainy and cold for the start of school! Sigh…

Ivy started school this year, which means that all three of my kids are at school together now. (My school just got a lot easier!) I took this photo (above) of them on their first day of school last week, wearing their rain gear on their way home from school.

I picked up some cute products from Rain Starts Play which have, at least, made these rainy days a bit more cheery. Like this colourful byGraziela backpack, and these handy waterproof dungarees. I like the selection at Rain Starts Play, which focuses on colourful, practical, good quality children’s products, many of which are from British and European brands.

x Courtney

Top Ten: Cool Camping!

Do you ever take the kids camping? Apart from our campervan trip up the coast of Australia a few years ago, we haven’t really ever done a camping trip. But I love the idea of it! We used to camp all the time when I was little and I have the fondest memories of it.

Luca from Deluna Kids recently told me she rented a VW van through Camperbug and went on a camping excursion with her family. How fun! I love the idea of renting a kitted out VW van – just looking at that website makes me want to do it!!

Anyway, this week’s Top Ten selection is dedicated to camping and I thought it was worth sharing. Check it out here.

x Courtney

Waterproof camera: a fun gift for kids!

Both of my boys asked for a new camera for their recent birthdays, and I thought it was a nice idea for them to be able to take their own photos — I was actually looking forward to seeing what sort of things they would photograph (I must say, the photos are so funny!).

After a small search on children’s cameras, my husband and I decided to buy them a ‘real’ camera instead of a specific kiddie one. After all, basic cameras are actually pretty affordable nowadays and easy enough for children to use. On top of that, we thought it would be fun to get them waterproof cameras so they could take photos under water (no question that feature would go over well with the boys!). We ended up buying them different cameras only because they had specific colour requests. My oldest wanted a yellow one, so we got him this Kodak EasyShare Sport camera, and my 6-year-old wanted a blue one so we ended up buying him a Nikon COOLPIX S30 (both were around the same price).

The boys brought their cameras with them on a recent holiday and it was really so much fun taking photos under the water!  (The control freak in me was so worried they were going to ruin their cameras in the water, but they worked perfectly!) The cameras are super basic (maybe somewhat clunky), but perfectly fine for little kids. And I love that they’re shock-proof, so no matter how many times they are dropped, they will hopefully still survive.

x Courtney

Ring-Rings.com: your phone number on your child

It must be one of every parent’s worst fears — losing your child in a crowd. The airport, an amusement park, the park on a warm summer day, the beach… all places where it’s so, so easy for a child to get lost. ‘She was just here a second ago’ is a phrase I know too well myself, and thankfully (touch wood!!), we’ve always found our kids back before panic broke loose. However, kids do get lost all the time, and this is where Ring-rings.com comes with a simple solution: silicon armbands with your phone number embossed in it.

I ordered two Ring-rings each for my kids, one with my husband’s number and one with mine, and so far they’ve been great! They’re waterproof, the colours are fun (glow-in-the-dark even!) and the miniature sizes are perfect for small children’s tiny wrists. They also have a very high ‘cool’ factor, my kids have not taken them off since they arrived.

This summer when we’re traveling, it’s safe to know my kids will have our phone numbers on them at all times. (But I hope they won’t need them!)

xxx Esther

Little suitcase by MimiLou


How cute are these little suitcases by Mimilou? In our home, little suitcases to store treasures are a very valuable commodity. Every night when I do the last round of picking up all the miscellaneous items left around the flat after a good days playing, I find little suitcases filled with little bits and pieces.

Now, I don’t know if it is only my kids, but the love these girls have for putting random stuff in a bag is immense. You can find little pictures they have drawn, mixed in with a broken doll leg, a little fluffy toy and some little books. It makes no sense to a grown-up, but to my kids these are real treasures. So I have decided to go with the flow (within limits of course). I’ve just decided we need pretty little suitcases for them to fill up. At least that helps me ignore the chaos inside.

- Emilie

Yellow Safety Vests from Ikea


I am normally relatively easygoing regarding security equipment for kids, but even I admit that my daughters wobbling down the wintery streets of Paris, with the certifiably insane Parisian drivers, fills me with dread. My latest Ikea discovery are these fab little safety vests for kids: they cost next to nothing and makes the kids so much more visible!

By the way, Paris has become so much more bicycle-friendly in the last few years, thanks to the success of the Velib’. There are now a ton of bike paths separated from the main roads all over the city, making it, against all odds, a good city to cycle around in!

- Emilie

Leg Warmers


I have decided that the cold winter of 2013 is the right time for my girls to challenge their inner Flashdance and start wearing leg warmers. Leg warmers are actually a highly underrated clothing item, don’t you think? As there is a strong preference for dresses and tights in our house, a pair of legwarmers is actually just the right thing to keep the girls’ legs cozy and warm.

So, as I could only find nasty acrylic leg warmers in the shops, I tried to knit some myself. They actually turned out quite well and where super easy to knit. (BTW I have noticed that everything I knit is a variation of a square for example the snood or the hat; I have no idea how to increase and decrease stitches!)

I used knitting needles size 8 European size and cast on 30 stitches and knitted a rectangle in rib stitch (2 pearl/ 2knit) that was 20 cm in height (great size for Violette who is now 4 years old). I then sewed together the sides to make the rectangle into a tube and repeated the whole process for the second leg warmer.

I got so excited about my new found knitting skill that I also knitted a pair of leg warmers for baby Marlow. Hilariously I forgot that 2-month-old babies are not the same size as a 4-year-olds. Funny how impossible it is to remember how small a tiny baby really is!

- Emilie

An amazingly snug and cozy bunting bag

This week, we’ve seen snow for the first time in Amsterdam this year, and even though it only lasted for an hour, I’ve been gearing up for severe cold. Snow boots, puffy jackets, hats and scarves — we are ready for winter! I’ve transformed Ava’s pushchair (a simple umbrella style one) into a wonderfully warm nest for her, using the Snug Science down bunting. She loves it. So snug!

Snug Science has been invented in NY, with extreme winters in mind. The idea was to create a warm bunting made out of high quality materials just like the ski jackets adults are wearing. The design is really clever as it easily converts from a newborn size to 4 year old (see above!), and the fact that it has arms gives children total freedom without ever getting cold.

xxx Esther

Eco-Bonk Bop Bags

It’s starting to get cold here in Montreal and so going out to play for hours is a thing of the past! I don’t know about you, but my son needs to move, run and jump and with the winter months ahead that isn’t always possible; I always thought he could use a punching bag to get all that buddle up energy out. So you can’t imagine how pleased I was to discover these Eco-Bonk bop bags and for so many reasons! These aren’t your typical inflatable bop bags, not only do they provide all the fun in the world by pushing them and having them bounce back, but they happen to be sustainable as well. The covers are removable and made from 100% organic Cotton, as well as being printed with water-based inks. The inside is made from biodegradable Vinyl, all made in the USA and a percentage of the proceeds will go towards supporting the Wildlife Alliance. Seriously, does it get any better? You can be reassured you kids are playing with a safe toy for them and the environment. So which is your favorite character? I think mine is Abigail the elephant.
There is a lot more information on the website and the Eco-Bonks can be bought online through the website as well. It’s always nice to support small family business and I was lucky enough to meet Donna, the co-founder and brains behind Eco-Bonk at the NYC gift show, it was such a pleasure talking to her and seeing the passion she had for the product. I just know my kids would love these and they are the top of my gift list this year.

- Celina

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